Growing up in a liberal protestant church, I had no conception of transubstantiation or consubstantiation. The church that I grew up in used cubes of white bread for communion. As a child, I knew however that little cube of bread was something very special. Because it was on a silver plate in church, it somehow was not “just bread”.
In the ninth grade, I went through confirmation. We were taught that the communion elements represented the body and blood of Christ, but no mysterious change in substance happened. It was a simple remembrance. I however still felt that bread cube was something more, something special.
I struggled to define this feeling that I had until I entered college and majored in religion. I was introduced to the concepts of transubstantiation and consubstantiation. EUREKA!!! I finally could define that sense that I had about that cube of bread. It WAS the Body of Christ!! I knew it was not just a cube of bread.
I would always pray and meditate with that cube of bread in my hand waiting for all to receive one. I remember one Sunday when my prayers were interrupted. It so happened, that on that particular Sunday, they did not use white bread, but rather cracked wheat bread. A friend of mine, not a regular church-goer at the time, commented to my mother about the “cube of bread”, “It has bones in it”. My mother, who was sitting between us gave a muffled chuckle. I flashed them a nasty glance, but could not hold back my amusement at my friend’s comment. To this day, I remind him about it and am glad that we use wafers!
Now, as a priest, I find extreme joy and peace in the celebration of the Eucharist. I truly feel the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through me. It transports me to a different level. I just feel different. It is like part of me is here and the other part is there before the throne of God. Words really cannot explain it without sounding like a total whack-job nut case!
So, back to my main point. Question: When is a cube of bread not a cube of bread? Answer: When, through the great mystery of faith, it becomes the Body of Christ. Even as a child I sensed this but did not know how to express it nor what to call it. Now as a priest, I hope fully to share this sense of mystery with my flock and society as a whole.
I thank God for giving me the understanding of this the greatest of Sacraments.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.